Ramped-Up Rhetoric Fails to Dislodge Evidence

via: Heritage

President Barack Obama addresses the American Medical Association's annual meeting on June 15, 2009 in Chicago. Obama's speech to the AMA is his latest effort to persuade skeptics that his health care plan is worth the expected high cost.

In his speech today to the American Medical Association [], President Barack Obama called the “naysayers” of his proposed public health insurance plan as nothing more than liars. “So, when you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this – they are not telling the truth.” he told AMA physician members at their annual conference in Chicago.

But the ramped-up rhetoric doesn’t address the projections that respected and nationally prominent health econometrics firm, the Lewin Group, has produced on a public plan if it were introduced in the market and modeled after Medicare.

Lewin estimated that roughly 70 percent of those with private insurance (or 119.1 million policyholders) would be shifted onto a public plan if it used Medicare reimbursement rates to health care providers.

These rates are 19 percent to 29 percent lower than what private insurers provide to doctors and hospitals. Since the government would serve as a regulator and participant in the same market, it would have the unfair advantage of being able to impose these artificially lower rates on doctors and hospitals where private insurers could not.

As a result, fewer insurers would be able to keep up with the artificially low premiums that a public plan would likely use, making the public plan the dominant and only option for Americans.

“President Obama may call conservative opposition to a public option ‘illegitimate’ and mock the idea that it would serve as a Trojan horse leading the United States into a single-payer system, but he fails to explain how the government would restrain itself from creating an uneven playing field in the insurance market,” Robert Moffit challenged following the speech.

“President Obama says that he even thinks single-payer systems in other countries work well, even though there is plenty of evidence of poor patient care and long wait times within single-payer systems of countries like Canada and Britain,” said Moffit, director of Heritage’s Center for Health Policy Studies.

The president again told Americans in his AMA speech today that “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

“How is that possible if employers, who make key decisions in health care, think it’s cheaper for them to dump their employees into a taxpayer-financed, government-run health plan? How is it possible if private insurers are forced out of the market by a government-run health plan that has special advantages like taxpayer subsidies?” Moffit said.

Moffit added consumers should remember the current health care debate is ultimately a question of control: Whether it’s going to be patients and doctors or government officials in Washington who make major health decisions. “Who is ultimately going to make the key decisions in that area of this economy that has so much direct, personal impact on the quality of your life?”

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